Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Compromise about gun laws? Not so much...

Cross posted at Media Matters gun facts

So the gun guys who read my blog often ask me to make a deal with them right on my blog about gun laws. They seem to think that we can negotiate something we can agree on just between us on my blog. Right. Making deals with the NRA has not worked out so well over the years. They insist on the "my way or the highway" route to getting things done. But when NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre makes his statement in the video, above, it's clear that the guys who have the guns think they are in charge. To some extent they are right. But leaving them in charge is a scary proposition to us on the gun control side. It has led to a dearth of sensible gun laws that could actually save lives. Never mind. That doesn't seem important to these guys. They are not so compromising as you will read later in this post.

Let's start in Minnesota with this instructive back and forth on a Minneapolis Fox News channel the other night between John Calle, representative of the gun rights community, and Heather Martens, Executive Director of Protect Minnesota ( formerly Citizens for a Safer Minnesota). You can watch it here:

So, to the nub of things. What are the issues that separate us here in Minnesota and most likely all states regarding gun rights and gun violence prevention? First of all, Calle forgot to mention a few things about  the Minnesota Shoot First bill which was considered in the last legislative session when talking about the recent Minnesota incident referred to in the interview. The Shoot First bill in Minnesota would prohibit police from even arresting a shooter without "considering any claims or circumstances supporting self-defense or lawful defense of another individual.  If the person can't be arrested, they can't be questioned. So how is there supposed to be consideration of claims and circumstances? In addition, this bill also adds a legal presumption that shooting another person is justified if the victim was in another person's fenced yard, garage or porch, or driveway. It also places an impossibly high burden of proof on the prosecution to show that the killing was NOT justified. That makes killing a right, and not killing the exception. That is backwards. Killing is wrong, and self-defense should be the exception. In an e-mail exchange with Heather Martens of Protect Minnesota ( above) I asked her to elaborate more on this issue. Here is what she said:
Shoot First would apply to anyone in public who believes they are threatened by someone, even if they could safely walk away. Not only would the bill eliminate the centuries-old code of killing only if there are no other options ; the shooter could
"continue to take defensive actions against an assailant until the threat is eliminated." As was the case with Joe Horn in Texas, this bill meant shooting two men in the back for burglarizing the neighbor's house.   
This is a bill to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later. That is not self-defense, which is already legal in Minnesota. This makes killing a right. There is no right to kill in our Constitution.
If we are going to talk about gun laws and compromising, let's talk about the real problem. The fact is that it has been proven in video after video after video filmed by people with hidden cameras at gun shows, that people who shouldn't have guns get them anyway from private sellers who do no background checks. That is legal. It is the private seller loophole in the Brady lawThis latest one shows plainly how those involved in Mexican drug cartels can easily get their guns at a Texas gun show. So what's the compromise here? Innocent lives have been lost needlessly in part because of this. How can there be a compromise with lost human lives? Why would anyone think that continuing with this private seller loophole at gun shows all over our county is a good idea? The public wants this loophole to be closed. But the NRA is uncompromising and so it doesn't happen.

Now, on to the more scary words of gun rights extremists.  How can the gun violence prevention organizations compromise when some engage in alleged activities such as those described in this article from Media Matters?
Fox News is now actively concealing a link between an Alabama-based blogger repeatedly featured on the network as an expert and allegations of a domestic terrorist plot.
This morning on America's Newsroom, Fox News ran an extensive report on yesterday's arrest of four Georgia men accused of plotting an attack on federal employees and U.S. citizens using explosives, guns, and the biological toxin ricin. At the end of the segment, correspondent Jonathan Serrie pointed out that one of the defendants "allegedly cited the online novel Absolved, which discusses small groups of citizens attacking U.S. officials," with the defendant allegedly "saying that the attacks would be based on events in that novel."
This was after the original Media Matters article written about Mike Vanderboegh, author of a novel named Absolved. Here is how that article began:
Four alleged members of a Georgia militia group were arrested yesterday relating to their alleged plot to kill numerous government officials. According to the complaint, one of the arrested repeatedly cited as the source of their plan the novel Absolved, authored by Fox News expert Mike Vanderboegh, the former militia member famous for urging his blog readers to hurl bricks through the windows of Democratic offices. 
In Vanderboegh's novel, which was self-published online, underground militia fighters declare war on the federal government over gun control laws and same-sex marriage, leading to a second American revolution. In the introduction to Absolved, Vanderboegh calls the book "a cautionary tale for the out-of-control gun cops of the ATF" and "a combination field manual, technical manual and call to arms for my beloved gunnies of the armed citizenry."
Since Fox News has been using Vanderboegh as their resident gun expert on issues including the ATF's Fast and Furious program, ( both Vanderboegh and Fast and Furious have been the subject of my blog posts) one has to wonder about the credibility of the information their viewers are receiving. And worse, one has to wonder why Fox News has anything to do with this character? When someone allegedly declares "war" against gun control laws and then spews his venom on a national news network, how can we take the gun rights folks seriously when they say they want to compromise over gun control? I have written before about the extreme positions taken by the NRA and its' leaders and board members. Do the members of the NRA sympathize with Vanderboegh's views? I'm just asking and would be interested to know. From the linked article above:
Vanderboegh portrays himself as preparing for the unfortunate day when the events in Absolved may come to pass (though he says that "another civil war in this country is the last thing I want.") He is a leader of the Three Percenters, a group which claims to represent the three percent of gun owners who "who will not disarm, will not compromise and will no longer back up at the passage of the next gun control act" but will instead, "if forced by any would-be oppressor, ... kill in the defense of ourselves and the Constitution."
Vanderboegh has suggested that those who tried to push the licensing and registration of firearms would be "proposing the next American civil war" because the Three Percenters "would kill anyone who tried to further restrict our God-given liberty."
And this article from the New York Times about the arrests in Georgia describes the men who were arrested, based on observations of community members, as innocuous older men who hung around in the coffee shops. These are folks who seem like just your average guy to the people in their town. And yet, look at what they were proposing to do. In addition:
The militia’s Web site has images of automatic weapons, links to Tea Party Web sites and conspiracy theories ranging from what “really” happened with Enron to who “the illuminati” are. The site lists Capt. Dan Roberts as the contact for the 440th Squad of the Georgia Militia. 
I can assure my readers that such writings and actions, even though falling under the category of fiction, do not make us feel safer nor do they make us want to engage in "compromise" as some of my readers ask me to do. When a group alleges that they will kill rather than compromise over gun violence prevention laws I need to know where there is any latitude for compromise. It doesn't look like there is. You may remember that I have written about the 2-3% of folks who have permits to carry and how they are making the rules in this country concerning gun violence prevention. And then they wonder why those of us working towards common sense are leery about engaging with them. Are these the people we want to be making the rules about gun policy? So readers, if you still want to compromise, let me know. But don't defend the statements made by extremists such as Vanderboegh and expect that I will listen to what you have to say.

(This post is written as part of the Media Matters Gun Facts fellowship. The purpose of the fellowship is to further Media Matters' mission to comprehensively monitor, analyze, and correct conservative misinformation in the U.S. media Some of the worst misinformation occurs around the issue of guns, gun violence, and extremism, the fellowship program. The fellowship program is designed to fight this misinformation with facts.)


  1. "If the person can't be arrested, they can't be questioned"
    This is one of the silliest things I have ever heard. The cops can and do question people that are not under arrest all the time!

    "Killing is wrong, and self-defense should be the exception."

    Killing is wrong or murder is wrong?

  2. Bravo, japete. It's good to see gun control advocates admit that they will not engage in compromise.

    It's true that the NRA also will not compromise. But many gun control advocates call upon moderate gunowners to leave the NRA and compromise. Now we see that there will be no compromise. It's either the gun controller's way or the NRA's way.

    That is why moderate gunowners who try to engage in compromise with gun control advocates usually end up back with the NRA. Any gun control advocates who wonder why more moderate gunowners don't leave the NRA should now know why.

  3. I believe you missed my point Jay.

  4. japete writes:
    "If the person can't be arrested, they can't be questioned."

    This is incorrect. Police can, and do, question individuals all of the time prior to arresting them. Individuals can even be detained against their will for questioning in some circumstances. Of course, they also have a constitutional right not to answer questions, consult with an attorney, and so on.

    This bill, as proposed in the Minnesota Legislature, did not do many of the things that you and others claimed that it would do.

    The bill will be back in the 2012 legislative season, I expect that it will pass without much issue.

  5. "It also places an impossibly high burden of proof on the prosecution to show that the killing was NOT justified."

    Not true. It merely shifted the burden from the defense to prove that the shooting was justified to the prosecution to prove that it wasn't. You know, like that impossibly high burden of innocent unless proven beyond a reasonable doubt in all other crimes.

  6. The person who was shot will not be around to prove anything in his or her defense. That is the main problem. The burden of proof should not be shifted in this way to the shooter. People already have the law on their side with the current Castle Doctrine provision in Minnesota law. In the recent case in Minneapolis, the man who chased the robber was not charged. I would say that the law is working as is and doesn't need to be changed. Let's just enact the laws already on the books.

  7. "Let's just enact the laws already on the books. "

    I think that's exactly the approach we should be taking with many gun control laws in general.

  8. Dear gregorycamp- I don't make deals on this blog as you know. It's clear that you guys are not interested in compromising. I am seeking that from others who are more reasonable.

  9. Again, gregory, anyone who writes about me, as you did, that "it's time to have a little fun at her expense" does not deserve attention or respect from me.

  10. Compromise:

    "A settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc., by reciprocal modification of demands."

    Until "mutual" or "reciprocal" offers are actually on the table. "Compromise" is simply not the right word. You side is not looking for actual compromise right now, and neither is mine.

    Which is why I was willing to see if there really was something "reciprocal" we could do.

    You said, "The public wants this loophole to be closed. But the NRA is uncompromising and so it doesn't happen."

    What "mutual" or "reciprocal" modification of demands are you offering and/or asking for there?

    The way I read the statement is "The public want's something (that is legal) to be different therefore you *must* grant this unilaterally, or you are unwilling to "compromise"

    To me, that isn't a request for a compromise or even dialog, it's a demand for a concession and there is a heck of a big difference.

    Like I said a long time ago, you might get a compromise (by offering us MORE freedom than we already have, or something we want more) but you are not going to get unilateral "concessions" when it comes to enumerated rights or the disposition of private property however we see fit.

    When you focus on the 'gun show loophole' Your focus is on the particular item. The gun. To us, it's just another piece of private property (that's also given special mentioned in the bill of rights)

    We focus on the "property rights" aspect and reject the idea of government regulation as an unnecessary infringement into private life.

    Getting someone to 'compromise' on a first principle like property rights is almost impossible if they think of it that way.

    Imagine how much harder it is demand a concession against those rights from the same person.

    That is the vast gulf between us.

  11. Your comments, 18Echo, validate what I am saying here. There is a wide gulf between you and me. There is not such a wide gulf between what the public thinks is reasonable and me. But that gulf is wider between the public support for reasonable gun laws and you than it is between public support and my position. You are in the minority but for now, have the elected officials lined up with your views- as extreme as I consider them to be. Property rights are not absolute. When your property is something you have illegally or intend to do harm with, we have a problem. No one is suggesting, by the way, seizing anything that you own legally. To stop someone from purchasing something they shouldn't have does not violate property rights because they don't own the property in the first place. So your position, I suggest, is not valid according to the way I and many others look at this problem. Who is demanding anything here? To close a loophole in current gun law that allows prohibited people to purchase guns is not a demand for a concession unless you support felons, domestic abusers, terrorists, minors, adjudicated mentally ill people, drug abusers, etc. So what are you supporting here? If you are against those people getting guns legally, then you support my position. You will make no concessions by supporting it. If you think those folks have rights to their guns, then you will not support it.

  12. "To stop someone from purchasing something they shouldn't have does not violate property rights because they don't own the property in the first place. So your position, I suggest, is not valid according to the way I and many others look at this problem."

    No, it violates MY property rights. Changing that is my objection.

    It is the BUYERS responsibility to be able to legally own what he wants to buy not MY responsibility to "pre-qualify" him as a buyer.

    We look at the problem from exactly opposite ends. You say "they don't own the property in the first place. " Quite TRUE. However *I* DO own the property in question and I have the legal right to dispose of it as I see fit. It is THEY that have to break the law, to buy a gun from me if they are not qualified to own a firearm. I am already obeying all the laws and am legally allowed to own one.

    Your proposal would make it illegal for ME to sell MY property without approval from the government. Keeping bad people from obtaining a gun in that way is merely a SIDE EFFECT of passing such a law, as it affects only people that are already legal owners. The law doesn't target bad people, it adds restrictions to GOOD people.

    Address this point for me.

    Closing the loophole would make ME a criminal for selling a gun to a LEGAL buyer if I didn't run the check.

    Not the BUYER.. ME...

    Perhaps, he's ny brother and I KNOW for sure that he's legal.. but it would still be a CRIME for me to sell him a firearm without the check.

    That would take TWO law abiding people, both able to own firearms, and make one of them a CRIMINAL because they didn't run a check they already know the answer to.

    You don't see that as a concession of private rights?

    I see it as a totally unacceptable intrusion by the government and say not only NO but HECK NO...

  13. Your argument makes no sense at all. It is specious. If you are a legal seller of guns and you run a background check, you won't get into any trouble for not selling to someone who is prohibited. That is the way it would work. Why would you become a criminal if you do the right thing as a seller? This is a nonsensical argument. If you do the right thing, you will be fine. So just do the right thing. What's the problem with that one? Your extreme Libertarian views here do not do one thing to keep the wrong people from buying guns. You are wrong about who any such laws would affect. In many of the laws, there are exclusions for family members but you had better be darned sure that your brother is not a felon, adjudicated mentally ill, a domestic abuser or drug abuser and he goes out and shoots someone with that gun or you will be held responsible as you should be. Do you think you can just do anything you want with absolutely no restrictions on you by the government at all? Just because you hate the government does not mean the any government restrictions to protect its' citizenry from dangerous people getting guns is wrong. You just don't like it. You don't really have a case. And no, I don't see laws such as this as concessions to private rights. Why are you trying to convince me of your Libertarian point of view. I am not a Libertarian. Forget about convincing me. I am not really trying to convince you either because I know that you, personally, will not agree with me but I know that a whole lot of other people will and do. So say your rights will be violated is a ludicrous statement. You can't prove it even if you say it loudly because it is simply not true. And, by the way, if you think you have the legal right to see your guns to felons, domestic abusers, adjudicated mentally ill people, etc. then you can stop commenting on my blog because I don't value anything else you might say here. Enjoy your afternoon and leave me alone now. I've had enough of your nonsensical arguments.

  14. Sorry for the typos in the above comment.

  15. If there is no FFL available to conduct the background check, like in DC at one time, how would it be possible to privately transfer a gun to a family member, relative, or friend?

  16. I assume you would do as you do, now. Just transfer the gun. The exceptions I have seen are only for family members, not friends. Further, at this point, I am talking mostly about gun show transfers where there are plenty of FFLs available for the transfers. It works in states that have closed this loophole. It can work everywhere.

  17. There is no "gun show loophole."

    There are private sales and there are dealers.

    A gun show is a location. If a private sale cannot happen in the gun show, nothing prevents them from taking it elsewhere. And if it takes place in DC, there is exactly ONE FFL.

    Furthermore, if you wish to have a private sale, in some states, one would have to drive quite far and pay quite a bit of money, IF you can find an FFL that will do the background check on weapons that are not being sold by him. All for a gift to a friend.

  18. There is indeed a loophole in the Brady Law that allows private sellers to sell their guns at gun shows without having to run background checks.

  19. I'm a gun-owner and I am all for common sense gun laws. But statistics show "shall issue" states have less crime. Thus common sense tells me guns do not cause crime; we need more citizens carrying guns. So I'm all for making laws that allow citizens more firearm freedoms. Seriously, "common sense" is not on your side.
    I think many of your arguments are based on the idea that giving away a little freedom is a fair compromise (or that it somehow makes us safer), while you compromise nothing. I lose freedom, you lose nothing. What are you offering to compromise?
    We all know the path that giving up freedom leads to. And in all honesty, can you name one piece of gun control legislation that works well and is an overwhelming success (or any government agency, program, or policy for that matter)?

  20. You are wrong about states with shall issue gun laws "savethegun" Read here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/01/11/20-deadliest-gun-states-from-mississippi-to-arizona.html

    The Brady Law has stopped more than 2 million prohibited purchasers from buying guns from FFLs.

  21. "There is indeed a loophole in the Brady Law that allows private sellers to sell their guns at gun shows without having to run background checks. "

    There is no loophole, as the Brady Law specifically applies to FFLs and only FFLs. It would be a loophole if FFLs were allowed to sell without NICS checks at gun shows, but required to perform them in their storefront location.

    Saying that sales by private citizens are a "loophole" in the Brady Law is like saying that airplanes are exploiting a "loophole" in the interstate speed limit.

    Private citizens, who are not covered by the Brady Law, are free to sell their firearms at gun shows or in their driveways, lawns, or living rooms, or on a boat in a moat, or on a train in the rain across the plain. Wherever not otherwise prohibited by law.

    "The Brady Law has stopped more than 2 million prohibited purchasers from buying guns from FFLs."

    How many of those 2 million have resulted in prosecutions?